Wayne Rooney's former lawyer says his £170 penalty is 'entirely appropriate'

Wayne Rooney leaves court after his sentencing yesterday (September 19)

Wayne Rooney leaves court after his sentencing yesterday (September 19)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Manchester lawyer who has previously acted for Wayne Rooney says the £170 penalty imposed on the footballer for drink-driving is entirely appropriate - despite his huge earnings.

Rooney was sentenced to 100 hours' community service yesterday (September 19) after pleading guilty to drink-driving earlier this month. But many have instead focused on the £170 Rooney was ordered to pay the court, with critics suggesting it is hugely lenient given the Everton footballer earns a reported £150,000 a week.

But Nick Freeman, who acted for Rooney in a previous case and has become known as 'Mr Loophole' for his prowess in celebrity driving cases, says this argument misses the point completely.

Freeman told talkRADIO: "That £170 isn't a fine as many people seem to believe. It's court costs and a victims' surcharge. The idea is that you put into a fund that goes into the victims of crime. You pay an amount towards the victim, even though this was a victimless crime."

The lawyer pointed out that Rooney couldn't receive any fine as punishment for his drink-driving, as he was instead sentenced to community service.

"If you get a community penalty you can't be fined. It's one or the other" said Freeman, who has also acted for Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham in the past.

"His lawyer argued unsuccessfully that he should be fined because he's a man of vast means and a fine wouldn't have impacted him. But a community order, in contrast, is a real punishment. It will require him to report for seven hours once a week, probably on a Monday. 

"He may be teaching troubled kids about football. People might say 'that's not really a punishment' but you can say that here you've got one of the world's most famous footballers, so it will mean a lot to the kids.

"Yes the court could have fined him, and for drink-driving the fine isn't capped. There's no limit. The law says you should be fined 150% of your net weekly earnings, which would be a lot in Rooney's case. But he's already been fined two weeks' wages by Everton so it is more punitive for him to work on a community basis, unpaid.

"The court has followed the sentencing guideines to the letter. They've given him a medium-term community order, which is typically 100-150 hours, but he pleaded guilty so you get 'a third off', meaning it's 100 hours."

"The disqualification of two years is also in line with sentencing guidelines. The legal limit is an alcohol reading of 35 micrograms per mililetre of blood, but they prosecute at 40 and above, and the sentencing guidelines say that, if you're between 90 and 119, the disqualiifcation should be between 23 and 28 months. Rooney got 24."

Rooney was arrested in the early hours of the morning on September 1 while three times over the limit, prompting fury in the media and among supporters.

But Freeman said "he wasn't doing anything else wrong in term of his driving. No-one's suggesting he was driving dangerously.

"Had he been involved in dangerous driving or causing an accident he would have been charged appropriately and wouldn't have been treated so leniently.

"People have also got to consider the shame, the humiliation - there's a moral aspect to this case. He's been humiliated in a very public way."